The Shelter Perspective: The Liverpool Street Extension 1941
Reducing the magnificence of Henry Moore's sculptures to a 2-D photographic image doesn't work for me. You can't savour them from every angle or appreciate their overwhelming impact in the space. At the Henry Moore show at Tate Britain here his drawings have as much eloquence, particularly his iconic series of London citizens sheltering in the underground from the nightly bombing raids in the Blitz. Moore was appalled by the poverty and squalor he encountered in these claustrophic living tombs and the sight of sleeping bodies in rows he could only compare to the horror of the slave ship.
Photo: Lee Miller, Henry Moore in Holborn underground station 1943
These outdoor images, some of which I have reproduced individually below, are a master-class in the art of being an eye-witness: immediate, dramatic, full of information. I marvel at his sense of scale: monumental scenes reduced to a thumbnail. But the subject matter is sometimes quirky, surreal in the way he juxtaposes sheep, for instance, with bombers, a crashed plane lodged against a haystack or 'peaceful women' with 'sudden devastation'. I spent a long time in front of this composite and I hope they repay you for giving them your close attention.
Eighteen Ideas for War Drawings 1940 Pencil, wax crayon, coloured crayon, watercolour wash and pen and ink on paper 27.4 x 37.6 cm
flashes from ground
gun shells bursting like stars
contrast of peaceful women with sudden devastation
Haystack and aeroplane
spotters [?] on buildings
Cows & Bombers
Bombs bursting at sea